It has been a wonderful whirlwind of NATURAL HAIR LOVE down here in the Virgin Islands this weekend!!! We kicked things off of Saturday night in St. Thomas with a workshop/expo at the Windward Passage Hotel. The house was packed to standing room only as new and old naturals alike crowded in to learn about natural hair and have their chance to purchase products that are more difficult to find here on the islands.
I started off with a welcome to the crowd, telling them a little bit about Natural Selection and my natural hair journey. Then I passed over the mic to Felicia Leatherwood who did one of her signature, information-filled, Loving Your Hair with Natural Care Workshops. The audience came ready for information and spent the next hour and a half asking questions about their unique natural hair concerns. I thought it was particularly interesting to see the workshop take on a Caribbean vibe from the opening when the first question asked was how to maximize your products and extend their longevity in an expensive island economy where everything has to be imported (something many of us with a Walgreens or Target down the street don’t really have to worry about. The response by the was was to be conscious of how you use them or ask a manufacturers to purchase their goods in larger sizes or in bulk).
Felicia explains curl type to a rapt audience
After the workshop, we welcomed Rochelle Graham-Campbell aka. BlackOnyx77 from YouTube aka the founder of the Alikay Natural product line. Rochelle shared her story and many great tips on creating a regimen and her signature technique for locking moisture into the hair.
BlackOnyx explains her regimen and words of natural wisdom
After my closing remarks attendees were unleashed onto the expo floor to purchase products from a well-curated collection of natural hair brands: Jane Carter, Komaza, Shea Moisture, Huetiful, Zuresh, Afroveda, Darcy’s Botanicals, Kinky-Curly as well as a host of accessory producers.
Attendees scoping out the SheaMoisture goods
After an intense and action packed 5 hours of the event, we called it a night early only because we all knew we had to get up early to fly over to St. Croix and do it all again the next day.
I was probably the person in the group the most excited about our travel plans to St. Croix, which consisted of hopping in a teeny-weeny six-person plane! We arrived on the air field and walked right up to the plane and I immediately started gushing to the captain about how I just signed up for flight lessons blah blah blah and THEN he rocked my freaking socks by letting me sit in the cockpit with him! Sure it was a 20 minute flight, but it was my first time being so close to the action and I LOVED IT!
Cheesin in while riding shotgun
Living my dream! And YES that is a TangleTeezer that I seem to be clutching onto for dear life.
We landed in St. Croix and were whisked away to the event organizer’s – Denise of MissNaturalista.com – parents’ home for a delicious home cooked meal. We feasted on fresh fish, bread fruit, rice, green fig salad, passion fruit juice, and the most massive avocados I’ve ever seen. After stuffing ourselves to our hearts’ content, it was siesta time. But truth be told, I uploaded pictures to Facebook when I should have been sleeping. Oh well.
And yes, I got seconds. (ok so it was 6 hours later, but I wanted all of this AGAIN)
The island of St. Croix is also stunning. It is noticeably less touristy than St. Thomas and our “touring” of this island has consisted of long drives through winding, lush, green hills from the tops of which you can peek out and see the aquamarine ocean. The vibe seems to be different here and I find it to be a refreshing change of pace from the hustle and bustle of St. Thomas.
View from the balcony of where I'm staying. ::::swoon::::
The St. Croix event was very much similar to the St. Thomas event in terms of how it flowed. I think everyone was a lot more relaxed and comfortable in knowing what to expect having just done it the night before (ok, well I was!!). My most memorable portions of the event are always talking to the people about their hair journeys and their questions in regard to their hair. I still have yet to make it through a natural hair event without someone asking me if I’m wearing a wig, a fact that always tickles me.
A Crucian audience member asks a whether or not she needs to retwist her hair every night (answer: NO)
Towards the end of the night, I noticed a woman with extremely long locs braiding another woman’s hair. I was once again, rocking my one-clip asymmetrical style and thought it might be cool to have the style a little bit longer so I asked her to put a few braids in as sort of a “natural” clip. I swore to myself I would never get cornrows again, but now I have seven of them hooking me up with a half-hawk sort of thing and I absolutely love it! They were done by a loctician/braider named Petra of Nat’ral Xpression. You will be hearing more about her on this blog so stay tuned because I saw some of her clients’ heads and I was thoroughly impressed with her skill and artistry.
Petra + Me. Cornrows weaseled their way back into my life and I don't hate it.
Overall, the feedback from the attendees of both events was 100% positive. This was the first time ever there had been any sort of gathering of the natural hair community in the Virgin Islands. The doubly sold-out events were yet again another testament to the strength and growth of the movement and to the fact that it’s happening all around the world.
I’ll be posting my full galleries of the events and trip + a video about the event in the next couple days or so, but I must retire now because we’re up early in the morning to fly back to St. Thomas (will I be in the cockpit again1!?!!??!?!?!?!?! zomg I can hardly wait!!!) and then, very very sadly, I fly back to Austin in the afternoon. I mean, I like Austin and all, but Austin ain’t surrounded by pristine beaches…ya know?
All in all: #USVI #naturalhair #ftw #gethere #illbeback